Windhoek, Namibia – AWEPA organised a series of side-events to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, which took place in Windhoek, Namibia, from 8 to 15 June 2016.
Through the side-events, AWEPA engaged in a dialogue with African MPs and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on the urgent subject of agro-food production and development, with a focus on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Participants discussed how European and African parliamentarians can provide sufficient oversight to the executive to ensure agreements such as EPAs are not disadvantageous to African states.
The events also offered an opportunity to transmit the increasingly promising findings of AWEPA’s Joint Monitoring Team (JMT) project to a wide and influential audience, including national African parliaments and the European Parliament, through the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.
The series was based around five main activities outlined in detail below:
Irish JMT members and Dr. Paul Goodison, GDC-Partners Expert on EU-Africa trade and advisor to AWEPA on trade policy issues, organised an informational session on “Economic Trade Agreements (EPAs) and EU-Namibia trade” for the Namibian Committee on Economics and Public Administration at the Namibian Parliament.
Hon. Maureen O’Sullivan, Head of the Irish AWEPA Section, briefed the plenary of the ACP Group on “Policy Coherence for development in the context of the implementation of the EPAs and the finalisation of EU agricultural policy reforms”. Interested MPs were invited to a follow-up briefing in the afternoon over coffee on the “EU-Africa Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)”. A specific focus was placed on the East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) with the objective of gauging interest in creating an EPA Parliamentary Group for each region.
An evening meeting addressed the theme of “wrapping up the Joint-Monitoring Team programme: Lessons learned and moving forward”. This meeting focused on the experience of the Irish-Mozambican JMT. Hon. Comiche, Chair of the Budget and Planning Committee, participated via tele-conference. In addition, the Director of MB Consulting was invited to Windhoek to discuss the outcome of the six-month training provided to staff of the Mozambican Committee on Planning and Budgets.
A working lunch targeted the members of the ACP-EU Committee on Economic Development, Finance and Trade, as well as MPs from Mozambique, Namibia and Kenya. The subject of the meeting was “the vital role of inter-parliamentary cooperation in ensuring responsible implementation of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) in the agro-food sector”. This event was scheduled as an official side-event to the ACP-EU JPA and all those present at the JPA were invited.
The working lunch was chaired by the Head of the AWEPA Section in the European Parliament, Hon. Bodil Valero. Dr. Goodison presented the vital role of parliamentary scrutiny in ensuring the responsible implementation of EPAs, in the light of the EU’s growing agro-food sector export focus and sub-Saharan Africa’s expanding food needs and aspirations for agro-food sector development.
Listen to the presentations and discussions from the working lunch here:
Finally, members of the Irish JMT and AWEPA staff were present during ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly itself in order to follow the proceedings closely and support MPs who wished to take forward the JMT model and/or concerns with agro-food trade processes onto the official agenda of the JPA.
This series of activities is part of the wider Joint Monitoring Team (JMT) project entitled “Increasing Parliamentary Oversight of Development Policies and Processes,” executed by AWEPA with support from Irish Aid. During the course of this project, European and African parliamentarians have worked closely, through peer to peer engagements, to foster a culture of mutual accountability regarding development policies and processes, including Official Development Assistance. At the heart of the project is the conviction that development outcomes are strengthened through effective parliamentary oversight of executive policies and plans.